Shreyas Iyer…is the rising star of Indian Cricket. He came across as a flamboyant and elegant batsman amongst the youngsters who played IPL 2015. After having an outstanding Ranji Trophy season playing for Mumbai, he scored 809 runs in his debut Ranji Season at an average of 50.56 which included 2 phenomenal centuries.
He took this brilliant form into the IPL and was the top scorer for his team Delhi Daredevils. He also went on to win the Emerging player of the year award in IPL this year. “Confidence” is Shreyas Iyer’s 2nd name as he has a lot of faith that he will be seen in the blue Jersey soon. Cricfit writer Binaisha M. Surti met this extremely talented cricketer at the Mumbai Cricket Association, where he gave great insights into many aspects from Cricket, to how well he does magic and entertains everyone!
How did you develop an interest in Cricket and how did your journey begin?
Shreyas: At the start, I used to play at home and my father used to bowl to me with a plastic ball…that time I realized that I could play well and my father also realized that I had something in me. Even when I played in my colony I would bowl really fast among all my friends, they also believed that I had talent. Everything started from here onwards. I started playing at the Worli Sports Club which is near my house and I took to cricket just as a hobby. Then we had our school selections at Shivaji Park…at that time I had to select 1 sport, either Football or Cricket because I was good in both. I thought that Football would not be great for me because at that time there was no future in the sport…I decided to pursue Cricket, I went in for selections and I got selected.
When did you realize that you wanted to pursue Cricket professionally?
Shreyas: When I started playing Cricket for my school, my coach there took me to Shivaji Park Gymkhana. There Pravin Amre was the coach…Earlier when I played in school, our school coaches would select certain players who they would find good and would take them to Shivaji Park Gymkhana for the trials. They found me really good, so they took me there. In the 1st year, unfortunately, I did not get selected but then again I tried in the 2nd year and was successful, as I had scored a century against their team in a tournament earlier. They were impressed with the way I had played and selected me. They took me in as a bowling all rounder…So I started as a medium pace bowler and that is how I started my journey of playing Cricket and gradually as I progressed, I started liking batting more and then as I got more and more runs, I concentrated a lot on my batting rather than bowling.
How has the transformation been from playing for India under 19 to Ranji Trophy and now the IPL?
Shreyas: Everything changed so fast because 1 year back I was nowhere and suddenly I came so far. But before I played Ranji Trophy I was in the UK…It taught me many good things as I used to stay alone over there and there was a lot of responsibility on me as I was the only overseas player in my team and all the pressure was on me. I had to perform in every game and take my team through to the next stage…I played for Clifton Village at Nottingham, it was a league tournament and our team finished at fifth position.
Was playing in the UK though? How has that experience helped you transform yourself as a person today?
Shreyas: This experience totally changed my life in a big way. While staying there I cooked my own food, took care of myself. I did have fun there but sometimes I would also feel lonely as life is quite different there compared to India.
What was the preparation like for the big stage of IPL 2015?
Shreyas: Pravin Amre Sir was working with me on my game and my skills. I felt mentally tough as I carried my confidence from the Ranji season, I knew that I had runs backing me and had scored the good amount of runs in ODIs too. I am someone who is always hungry for runs.
How would you term the experience of playing in the IPL and what did you learn from Gary Kirsten and senior players like Yuvraj and Zaheer?
Shreyas: It was a really good experience for me…playing alongside some of the big names in International Cricket, what else could I have asked for. There was no pressure at all, I used to go out there in the middle and bat freely. Gary used to come and tell me to play my natural game and concentrate more on singles and he also said that if I did that then automatically I would get boundaries; he never put any pressure on me. Yuvraj too told me to just focus and play my natural game, he said that I played my shots well and I have talent. When we played together he explained to me how to analyze the situation. When I played vs CSK, we had a good partnership in the middle and at that time too he helped me a lot. Talking about Zaheer, he was the backbone of the tournament for me because he exactly knew how a bowler would bowl, how the wicket was going to behave and how the bowlers think etc. So before every game, I used to go to him as he is really good in sharing experiences.
What was it like to go and open the innings for Delhi Daredevils and what was the responsibility given to you by the team management?
Shreyas: At the start of the tournament I did not open and would go in at no 4… I did not think that I would ever open for DD. Suddenly one day Pravin Amre Sir came to me and said that be ready to open the innings and I was willing to bat at any no. As an opener, my responsibility was to go out and score as many runs in the first six over’s of power play or if we would be chasing a big score we would have to score some quick runs…I used to express myself freely.
How was it like to go out there in the middle and face the best bowlers in the World?
Shreyas: I was a bit nervous in the beginning of IPL…moreover in my first game…The 2nd time I was nervous was when I was facing Starc. When he bowled his first delivery, it was a very quick one and I could not even see the ball. It just passed by so quickly… Unfortunately, on his 2nd ball, I was given out.
Which has been your most memorable innings so far in IPL and why?
Shreyas: My most memorable innings came against CSK, more importantly, I remained not out and made my team win…I took calculative risks and also went on to take many singles in that match. Gary came up to me and said that “this is the innings I want from you.” So that was a really good feeling.
What is the secret behind Shreyas Iyer’s success?
Shreyas: I just like to be confident and believe in myself, have that faith that you can do it and trust your coaches too. Your team mates can really help you and keep taking advice from everyone but finally, listen to yourself.
You take on the spinners and seamers with so much confidence and calmness…How did you develop that?
Shreyas: Playing in the IPL, seamers are more comfortable for me and in Ranji Trophy games I prefer spin because I can easily score my runs. The UK experience helped me a lot…as the conditions there were tough, it used to rain off and on, the wicket used to be damp, the bowlers there were quick too.
Has life changed since playing in the IPL for DD?
Shreyas: Yes it has changed in a big way. People have started recognizing me… But I have not changed as a person, I am just the same.
So what is Shreyas like as a person outside the cricket field?
Shreyas: As a person… I enjoy myself a lot, I keep everyone happy, I crack a lot of jokes… I am a really good magician so I show people magic. I did entertain a few of my DD mates too.
Who are the team mates you got along with best in the DD setup?
Shreyas: I used to spend a lot of time with Jaydev Unadkat and Jayant Yadav. We 3 would always be together.
Who has been your biggest inspiration when it comes to playing Cricket?
Shreyas: In my growing days I would watch Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Saurav Ganguly. They really inspired me to play cricket. I used to go and watch matches at Wankhede Stadium with my father and that too inspired me a lot.
As a Cricketer how would you save the format of Test Cricket today and encourage a larger audience to come watch the game?
Shreyas: (Thinks! and then says… that is a very good question)
I think they should modify the format to attract more crowds. Every player’s dream is to finally play Test Cricket because ultimately this format is the real Cricket.
Could you share some funny moments and some most memorable moments which have taken place so far in your cricketing career?
Shreyas: The funny thing during the Ranji Trophy games is that when there is a player’s birthday we mix all the food after cutting the cake and smash everything in the face of the player… (laughs while remembering the moment) and my most memorable moment was when I first received my Ranji Trophy cap on 7th December 2014, from Dhawal Kulkarni.
Personally which is your favorite format of the game and why?
Shreyas: Test Cricket, because it really tests your temperament and how you can cope with different situations. It indeed is one of my favorite formats.
What has been your all time favorite stroke?
Shreyas: I have recently developed a stroke in T20, I used to go out of the crease and play between point and third man so that is a stroke I play often. I also feel very good when I play inside out, over the covers while facing a spinner.
What do you do when not playing Cricket?
Shreyas: I am a big food fanatic, I go out to eat with my friends, watch movies and I play… play station. I even like to read auto biographies.
What message would you like to give to your fans?
Shreyas: Keep loving me, keep supporting me and I will never disappoint you.
Shreyas is all ready and set to play the ever so loved rapid fire round with us…
Nickname: My team mates call me Iyer
Your favorite cuisine: Chinese and Moghlai
Favorite Movie: Bhag Milkha Bhag and Goal
Favorite Actor: Will Smith
Favorite actress: Scarlett Johansson and Deepika Padukone
If not a cricketer than what would you have been: Footballer
Your Favourite Cricketer: AB de Villiers
Favorite Footballer: Zlatan and Ronaldo
Favorite Holiday Destination: Greece
Favorite Hobby: All Sports
Best Compliment is so far given to you after IPL: Many people have told me that I am a flamboyant player, I take calculative risks and I am not afraid of failure so those were some great compliments.
J.P Duminy as Captain of Delhi Daredevils: He is a great person and he also handled all the players very well in the team. We all worked hard under his captaincy.
One Favourite moment in IPL: When I took a picture with AB de Villiers and also had a small chat with him.